(New throughout, adds details, comment from executive)
By Peter Frontini
SAO BERNARDO DO CAMPO, Brazil, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The Brazilian unit of German automaker Mercedes-Benz expects overall domestic truck sales to rise 18% as the government keeps pushing its reform agenda and the economy rebounds.
Philipp Schiemer, president of Mercedes-Benz in Latin America, said the company estimates some 120,000 trucks will be sold in Brazil this year. That was slightly less than the 126,150 units estimated by Fenabrave, the local distributors’ association.
The challenges for Mercedes will be returning to profit and boosting exports, which were hampered by an economic downturn in Argentina, Brazil’s main client for vehicles, the executive said.
“Exports continue to be the sector’s Achilles heel,” Schiemer told reporters. “We are optimistic in relation to Brazil’s market... It is important that the reform drive continues,” he said.
In December, rival German car marker Volkswagen estimated 5% to 10% sales growth in the Brazilian truck market for 2020. (Reporting by Peter Frontini Writing by Ana Mano Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)